The job of people leaders is to produce results through others. Pretty simple, right? Actually…no. As straightforward as the task may seem, it can get pretty complicated and overwhelming at times. Curve balls, brick walls, and head scratching issues all conspire against you. What can you do as a people leader when your plate is completely full and you just can’t find the time to get to everything?
The first thing many leaders try is expanding the size of their plate. However, once this strategy has been maximized, you are left with two choices:
1. Carve time out of your limited plate to do it yourself
2. Delegate work to others (which still means you need to carve out time, possibly even more).
One of the biggest challenges as a leader is to protect your calendar so that you can get to the most important things. You need to ask yourself, “Is it more important to do it yourself or to help get someone else to the point where they can do it?” Notice the question isn’t whether it’s more efficient to do it yourself, but rather is it more important. Over time, a delegation strategy needs to outweigh a do-it-yourself strategy. Otherwise, you’re not being effective as a people leader. By the way, don’t assume that trusting others to get things done means that you need to sacrifice quality. Really great people leaders work in ways that inspire and motivate others to produce better results than they could possibly produce themselves.
Some things can’t or shouldn’t be delegated (relationship building, creating vision, modeling, and recognizing and supporting others). When it comes to making time for these key responsibilities, your only option may be to eliminate something less important from your plate. It may not be fun, popular, or easy, but saying no to less-important things is the only way to expand your influence as a people leader. Allowing, even requiring, others to step up is really the only choice for long-term success.